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Faunal diversity and endemicity of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa — a first assessment

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Abstract

A total of 322 records were available from the literature on faunal taxa endemic to the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Excluding possible pseudoendemics, dubious records and many invertebrate groups for which little or no information exists, these records represent 112 species (1 vertebrate and the rest invertebrates) in 47 families. This number excludes many other potential endemics having distributions that extend just off the Peninsula. When mapped according to a 590 1 km×1 km grid, these endemics were clustered in several, largely montane nodes and palaeogenic (palaeoclimatically stable) zones typically located in upper reach forest streams, riverine forest and caves (the latter supported 14 endemics). Endemics were over-represented on steep slopes. For many taxa, a very high percentage of the Peninsula representatives were endemics. There were more plant than animal endemics per 1 km2 cell, although in total there were more animal than plant endemics. A significant correlation existed between the distribution of plant and animal endemics on the Peninsula, and especially on Table Mountain. The relationship, however, appears not to be causal, and is possibly related to parallel responses to historical isolation and topography. As the endemic fauna is mostly relictual, conservation of umbrella plant communities and the sandstone caves is essential. This may avert further extinction (some invertebrate endemics are likely to be extinct at this stage). Others have suffered declines in population numbers through development, invasion of alien vegetation, and possibly through predetion by the introduced Argentine ant.

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Picker, M.D., Samways, M.J. Faunal diversity and endemicity of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa — a first assessment. Biodivers Conserv 5, 591–606 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00137611

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